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Summary: Physical Pain, Unanswered Prayers, Grace

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OUT OF WEAKNESS…STRENGTH - Paul: “The Thorns Really Hurt”

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (p. 808) October 1, 2017

Introduction:

Have you ever wondered why God put thorns on roses?

Well, here’s the scientific answer from a Harvard professor:

“Roses really don’t have thorns…thorns are woody branches deeply embedded in a plant structure…Roses have “prickles.” Prickles are sharp pointed hairs that contain epidermal and sub-epidermal tissues. A thorn is a short, sharp modified stem. Roses use “prickles” to ward off predators…prickles help extend the roses life.”

But I’m thinking when Brett Michaels, from the band Poison, wrote and sang the power ballad “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn,” using the word “prickle” wouldn’t have been as effective. So, we’re gonna call them thorns.

The theory of evolution would teach that the rose plant miraculously sensed that it didn’t want to get eaten and so over millions of years “thorns,” excuse me “prickles” evolved to protect its beautiful blooms from being munched upon by “critters.”

But those of us who have a biblical world view would say that God designed the rose’s beauty and put the thorns there for its protection…without the thorns it just wouldn’t last as long.

Hmmmm. It seems there could be a spiritual application to this truth.

That application? God gives us thorns so we can be protected by His grace…and in our weakness we can trust His power.

Let’s ask some questions today about thorns…

I. DO YOU REMEMBER PAUL’S PAST?

Paul says, “I was a violent man, I was a blasphemer, I was someone who persecuted believers…I was the worst sinner who ever lived.” (1 Timothy 1:13)

Those were his words to describe his life before his conversion.

And you remember that conversion don’t you? Headed to Damascus to do some of that violent persecution…Being struck down in the dirt blind in an encounter with a risen Jesus…being led by the hand to Damascus…where Ananias is sent by God to restore Paul’s sight.

Here’s what God tells Ananias…And what happens:

ACTS 9:13-19 (p. 765)

God calls you…miraculously saves you and then gives you this message:

“I will show him how much he must suffer in my name.”

Wow!!! Something to look forward to, huh?

But I often say, “God will not call us to something without supplying us with everything.”

And Paul’s suffering would be intense…The thorns would hurt.

[Five times I received from the Jews the 40 lashes minus one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones (usually it only takes once), three times I was shipwrecked…I spent a night and a day in the open sea…I’ve had to constantly be on the move…I’ve been in danger from rivers, bandits, my countrymen and the Gentiles…I’ve been in danger in every possible location and in danger from unbelievers…I’ve worked hard, gone without sleep, I’ve been hungry and thirsty, cold and naked…and I feel a burden daily for the people I love in the church.”]

He’s gone through all this “For the sake of the call.” His calling to make disciples for Christ to preach the good news of salvation.


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